I am so pleased to be able to tell you that 7th to 11th October is National Work Life Week in the UK. It is an awareness campaign designed to encourage employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and the balance between their work and their personal lives.
In years gone by it was the general belief system that you should work harder than anyone else to get anywhere in life. That you should commit and dedicate yourself to your job in body for as many work hours as possible and ideally in mind for as many hours as possible on top of that.
Now we see things a little differently, we are starting to understand that a work ethic that leaves no time to recharge or balance our work and our personal lives is just not sustainable.
The very best leaders and the highest achievers openly advocate achieving a good work/life balance. Many of them have described how they focus a higher proportion of their week on things they enjoy, things that make them happy, and things that keep them healthy. Insisting that it is this work-to-live mentality that is the ultimate secret to their success.
With flexitime, 4-day working weeks, and in-work wellness programmes becoming more common for many organisations and an estimated 1.5 million people now regularly working from home, we are certainly on the right track but things just are not changing fast enough.
In 2018 the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reported that over 600,000 people reported suffering from work-related stress, depression and/or anxiety in their summary of annual statistics for health and safety at work. They went on to report that 26.8 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health in 2017/18.
The thing is, employers can only do so much. We as employees also have a responsibility to develop a mindful, balanced approach to our work and our personal life. If we don’t take some responsibility for our own work-life balance, then unfortunately a 4-day working week is just not going to make much of a difference.
Here are 8 things we can do to get our work/life on track and nicely balanced.
1. Plan your days off
It is important to plan what you will be doing on your day off in advance, this way you don’t find yourself back at work with no idea where the time went. Try not to dedicate your whole day off to doing chores and avoid giving all of your time to help out other people. Your day off should be reserved for doing things that make you happy, smile, laugh and relax.
2. Healthy body
Get your heart rate up and feel energised by taking part in at least one exercise based activity each week. Aside from the physical health benefits that come with exercise, taking part in physical activity also releases feel-good hormones that have a big part to play in balancing your mood, relieving stress, reducing anxiety and increasing self-esteem.
3. Expand your mind
Participate in at least one mental wellness activity per day (yoga, meditation, reading, listening, learning, creating). Taking the opportunity to engage your brain in something non-work, non-chore, non-family related provides the opportunity to recharge your mind, process information and problem-solve.
4. Sleep schedule
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends and days off helps your internal body clock to stay on track. It will make falling asleep and waking up much easier, leaving you feeling much more refreshed. Choose a set time to go to sleep and to wake up – don’t hit snooze it will only make you feel groggy.
5. Setting goals
We all need to know where we are heading and why we are working so hard to motivate us to get up and go. If you set realistic goals and some achievable timescales to reach these goals by, in moments of doubt or on days where you just don’t feel like adulting (great word, Google-it) you can remind yourself exactly what you are working towards.
6. Clean up your diet
Plan to eat healthy well-balanced wholesome meals at regular intervals in the day. Try to prepare your lunch in advance so you don’t fall in to the trap of grabbing a chocolate bar because you ran out of time in the morning.
7. Be organised with your finances
Getting overdraft notifications to your phone and opening final demands when you get home is super stressful. Knowing your cash flow is balanced and your bills are paid may not seem related to work-life balance, but it is all about relieving the stressors that take you away from enjoying your downtime. Try to get a handle on your home finances so there are no nasty surprises waiting for you on the door mat.
8. Prioritise your home chores and responsibilities
We all feel at our most relaxed when we know we have all of the important stuff ticked off. Making sure that you have prioritised your home chores and responsibilities relieves the weekend stress when you try to cram in everything you have not had a chance to do. A mostly chore-free weekend leaves plenty of opportunity to do something fun.
If you are ready to take steps towards a healthy balance between your work and your life, check-out some of my other posts that touch on this subject too.
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